Mom Had Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer Multiple Myeloma is treatable, does not have to be life threatening and my little sister has it. It seems that my family just is not going to be lucky where this decease is concerned. My mother died from symptoms of her cancer, that was over 10 years ago. My mom had cancer of the thyroid, but did not see the signs until she began to faint and even then the medical profession missed it. When a lump appeared on her neck, test was done, x-rays were taken and then she was told she needed an operation to remove a goiter. I went to work that day; it was supposed to be a simple surgery, but it turned out to be anything but simple. The mass in my mom’s neck was the tip of the iceberg and what lay below the neckline was connected to everything, her lungs, her breasts everything. They opened up her chest and closed it right back up, not touching anything. They forgot to close off a vein or something though because no sooner did they have her in the recovery room they rushed her back into the operating room to stop some internal bleeding. My mother almost died on that table twice, but said she could hear everything they were saying and what one of them was saying was not nice, but that is not what we are talking about today. What we are however talking about is that my mom had the least common type of thyroid cancer which is called, anaplastic thyroid cancer, which has a very poor prognosis. Anaplastic thyroid cancer tends to be found after it has spread, and it is incurable in most cases.
The surgery left my mom with a trach. A tracheostomy (trach) tube is a curved tube that is inserted into a tracheostomy stoma (the hole made in the neck and windpipe (Trachea)). There are different types of tracheostomy tubes that vary in certain features for different purposes. A commonly used tracheostomy tube consists of three parts: outer cannula with flange (neck plate), inner cannula, and an obturator. The outer cannula is the outer tube that holds the tracheostomy open. A neck plate extends from the sides of the outer tube and has holes to attach cloth ties or velcro strap around the neck. The inner cannulae fits inside the outer cannula. It has a lock to keep it from being coughed out, and it is removed for cleaning. The obturator is used to insert a tracheostomy tube. It fits inside the tube to provide a smooth surface that guides the tracheostomy tube when it is being inserted.
It also left her with a very ugly mass of scar tissue where they had opened her up and closed her right back up that would never go away. This was a terrible thing for a woman who prided herself on her appearance. To her she would never be beautiful again and that broke her heart and mine, because I knew she would fight, but she would never be truly happy ever again. It was an aggressive cancer but it was painless. Her biggest worry was in choking, the thing she hated was the mucus build up that she coud not control and the having to spit a practice she detested and now was forced to do. My mother fought with all she had for 6 long years. The odor of a person dying form cancer is distinctive and did not start until about five years into the 6 years that they told her that she had left, careful always to stress that the final decision came from God. The smell of the cancer began to permeate everything a sign that she was losing the battle in spite of all her exercising and her legs had begun to give out. I was in another province when my brother called me and told me that my mom had passed away choking unable to clear her trach. Mom had avoided going to the hospital all of her life, because she believed that she would be told that she had cancer. My mom’s greatest fear was choking to death; she was right on both counts. Mom believed that it was important to be buried in a coffin the old-fashioned way and did not want to be cremated; I honored her final request.
I sit here and I think about the first time I saw her out of the recovery room and in her bed on the cancer ward and I shudder. My mom’s head had swollen to the size of a small watermelon, her tongue inside her mouth was so swollen that she could not talk, her face was so swollen that there were not distinguishable features. My mom had a pen and a piece of paper to help her communicate but her hands looked like those of Mickey Mouse and she could not hold the pen unless I helped her and steady her hand while she struggled to move. It was a long frustrating way to communicate, but we endeavoured and we persevered. They had to pump so much fluid back into her so fast that it was having this affect, but we were assured that it would go away and was not permanent.
I was the one chosen to tell my mom how bad everything was and that she had cancer and it was not just a goiter problem. The first think I was asked by her is did they get it all and it broke my heart to tell her that not only had they not gotten it all, but that they had not taken out any of it because it was attached to every major organ and to touch it would have killed her. When she got home from the hospital she ran up and down our stair, as she got stronger she ran around the block, all I an effort to keep her alive as long as possible. It took her a while to receive visitors, but she eventually did see them and soon after that was attending parties. Her biggest regret came when she lost her sense of taste, followed by her ability to eat solid food, because she had loved to eat. Mom never gave up, but that did not surprise me she was always a tough bird and a fighter.
Well you know if you read this blog that I had to be operated on last year for prostate cancer. I under went robotic surgery and had my prostate removed. On the anniversary of the operation I will tell you how I am doing, but so far so good. In the very near future I will tell you how my little sister is dealing with her Multiple Myeloma.